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This webpage reproduces part of the
De Officiis


published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. XXI) Cicero
De Officiis

Book II

 p169  1 1 I believe, Marcus, my son, that I have fully explained in the preceding book how duties are derived from moral rectitude, or rather from each of virtue's four divisions. My next step is to trace out those kinds of duty which have to do with the comforts of life, with the means of acquiring the things that people enjoy, with influence, and with wealth. [In this connection, the question is, as I said: (1) what is expedient, and what is inexpedient; and (2) of several expedients, which is of more and which of most importance.] These questions I shall proceed to discuss, after I have said a few words in vindication of my present purpose and my principles of philosophy.

2 Although my books have aroused in not a few men the desire not only to read but to write, yet I sometimes fear that what we term philosophy is distasteful to certain worthy gentlemen, and that they wonder that I devote so much time and attention to it.

Now, as long as the state was administered by the men to whose care she had voluntarily entrusted herself, I devoted all my effort and thought to her. But when everything passed under the absolute control of a despot and there was no longer any room for statesmanship or authority of mine; and finally when I had lost the friends1 who had been associated with me in the task of serving the interests of the state, and who were men of the highest standing, I did not resign myself to grief, by which I should have been overwhelmed, had I not struggled  p171 against it; neither, on the other hand, did I surrender myself to a life of sensual pleasure unbecoming to a philosopher.

3 I would that the government had stood fast in the position it had begun to assume and had not fallen into the hands of men who desired not so much to reform as to abolish the constitution. For then, in the first place, I should now be devoting my energies more to public speaking than to writing as I used to do when the republic stood; and in the second place, I should be committing to written form not these present essays but my public speeches, as I often formerly did. But when the republic, to which all my care and thought and effort used to be devoted, was no more, then, of course, my voice was silenced in the forum and in the senate. 4 And since my mind could not be wholly idle, I thought, as I had been well-read along these lines of thought from my early youth, that the most honourable way for me to forget my sorrows would be by turning to philosophy. As a young man, I had devoted a great deal of time to philosophy as a discipline; but after I began to fill the high offices of state and devoted myself heart and soul to the public service, there was only so much time for philosophical studies as was left over from the claims of my friends and of the state; all of this was spent in reading; I had no leisure for writing.

2 5 Therefore, amid all the present most awful calamities I yet flatter myself that I have won this good out of evil — that I may commit to written form matters not at all familiar to our countrymen but still very much worth their knowing. For what, in the name of heaven, is more to be desired  p173 than wisdom? What is more to be prized? What is better for a man, what more worthy of his nature? Those who seek after it are called philosophers; and philosophy is nothing else, if one will translate the word into our idiom, than "the love of wisdom." Wisdom, moreover, as the word has been defined by the philosophers of old, is "the knowledge of things human and divine and of the causes by which those things are controlled." And if the man lives who would belittle the study of philosophy, I quite fail to see what in the world he would see fit to praise. 6 For if we are looking for mental enjoyment and relaxation, what pleasure can be compared with the pursuits of those who are always studying out something that will tend toward and effectively promote a good and happy life? Or, if regard is had for strength of character and virtue, then this is the method by which we can attain to those qualities, or there is none at all. And to say that there is no "method" for securing the highest blessings, when none even of the least important concerns is without its method, is the language of people who talk without due reflection and blunder in matters of the utmost importance. Furthermore, if there is really a way to learn virtue, where shall one look for it, when one has turned aside from this field of learning?

Now, when I am advocating the study of philosophy, I usually discuss this subject at greater length, as I have done in another of my books. For the present I meant only to explain why, deprived of the tasks of public service, I have devoted myself to this particular pursuit.

7 But people raise other objections against me —  p175 and that, too, philosophers and scholars — asking whether I think I am quite consistent in my conduct — for although our school maintains that nothing can be known for certain, yet, they urge, I make a habit of presenting my opinions on all sorts of subjects and at this very moment am trying to formulate rules of duty. But I wish that they had a proper understanding of our position. For we Academicians are not men whose minds wander in uncertainty and never know what principles to adopt. For what sort of mental habit, or rather what sort of life would that be which should dispense with all rules for reasoning or even for living? Not so with us; but, as other schools maintain that some things are certain, others uncertain, we, differing with them, say that some things are probable, others improbable.

8 What, then, is to hinder me from accepting what seems to me to be probable, while rejecting what seems to be improbable, and from shunning the presumption of dogmatism, while keeping clear of that recklessness of assertion which is as far as possible removed from true wisdom? And as to the fact that our school argues against everything, that is only because we could not get a clear view of what is "probable," unless a comparative estimate were made of all the arguments on both sides.

But this subject has been, I think, quite fully set forth in my "Academics." And although, my dear Cicero, you are a student of that most ancient and celebrated school of philosophy, with Cratippus as your master — and he deserves to be classed with the founders of that illustrious sect2 — still I wish our  p177 school, which is closely related to yours, not to be unknown to you.

Let us now proceed to the task in hand.

3 9 Five principles, accordingly, have been laid down for the pursuance of duty: two of them have to do with propriety and moral rectitude; two, with the external conveniences of life — means, wealth, influence; the fifth, with the proper choice, if ever the four first mentioned seem to be in conflict. The division treating of moral rectitude, then, has been completed, and this is the part with which I desire you to be most familiar.

The principle with which we are now dealing is that one which is called Expediency. The usage of this word has been corrupted and perverted and has gradually come to the point where, separating moral rectitude from expediency, it is accepted that a thing may be morally right without being expedient, and expedient without being morally right. No more pernicious doctrine than this could be introduced into human life.

10 There are, to be sure, philosophers of the very highest reputation who distinguish theoretically between these three conceptions,3 although they are indissolubly blended together; and they do this, I assume, on moral, conscientious principles. [For whatever is just, they hold, is also expedient; and, in like manner, whatever is morally right is also just. It follows, then, that whatever is morally right is also expedient.] Those who fail to comprehend that  p179 theory do often, in their admiration for shrewd and clever men, take craftiness for wisdom. But they must be disabused of this error and their way of thinking must be wholly converted to the hope and conviction that it is only by moral character and righteousness, not by dishonesty and craftiness, that they may attain to the objects of their desires.

11 Of the things, then, that are essential to the sustenance of human life, some are inanimate (gold and silver, for example, the fruits of the earth, and so forth), and some are animate and have their own peculiar instincts and appetites. Of these again some are rational, others irrational. Horses, oxen, and the other cattle, [bees,] whose labour contributes more or less to the service and subsistence of man, are not endowed with reason; of rational beings two divisions are made — gods and men. Worship and purity of character will win the favour of the gods; and next to the gods, and a close second to them, men can be most helpful to men.

12 The same classification may likewise be made of the things that are injurious and hurtful. But, as people think that the gods bring us no harm, they decide (leaving the gods out of the question) that men are most hurtful to men.

As for mutual helpfulness, those very things which we have called inanimate are for the most part themselves produced by man's labours; we should not have them without the application of manual labour and skill nor could we enjoy them without the intervention of man. And so with many other things: for without man's industry there could have been no provisions for health, no navigation, no agriculture, no ingathering or storing of the  p181 fruits of the field or other kinds of produce. 13 Then, too, there would surely be no exportation of our superfluous commodities or importation of those we lack, did not men perform these services. By the same process of reasoning, without the labour of man's hands, the stone needful for our use would not be quarried from the earth, nor would "iron, copper, gold, and silver, hidden far within," be mined.

4 And how could houses ever have been provided in the first place for the human race, to keep out the rigours of the cold and alleviate the discomforts of the heat; or how could the ravages of furious tempest or of earthquake or of time upon them afterward have been repaired, had not the bonds of social life taught men in such events to look to their fellow-men for help? 14 Think of the aqueducts, canals, irrigation works, breakwaters, artificial harbours; how should we have these without the work of man? From these and many other illustrations it is obvious that we could not in any way, without the work of man's hands, have received the profits and the benefits accruing from inanimate things.

Finally, of what profit or service could animals be, without the cooperation of man? For it was men who were the foremost in discovering what use could be made of each beast; and to‑day, if it were not for man's labour, we could neither feed them nor break them in nor take care of them nor yet secure the profits from them in due season. By man, too, noxious beasts are destroyed, and those that can be of use are captured.

15 Why should I recount the multitude of arts without which life would not be worth living at all? For  p183 how would the sick be healed? What pleasure would the hale enjoy? What comforts should we have, if there were not so many arts to master to our wants? In all these respects the civilized life of man is far removed from the standard of the comforts and wants of the lower animals. And, without the association of men, cities could not have been built or peopled. In consequence of city life, laws and customs were established, and then came the equitable distribution of private rights and a definite social system. Upon these institutions followed a more humane spirit and consideration for others, with the result that life was better supplied with all it requires, and by giving and receiving, by mutual exchange of commodities and conveniences, we succeeded in meeting all our wants.

5 16 I have dwelt longer on this point than was necessary. For who is there to whom those facts which Panaetius narrates at great length are not self-evident — namely, that no one, either as a general in war or as a statesman at home, could have accomplished great things for the benefit of the state, without the hearty co‑operation of other men? He cites the deeds of Themistocles, Pericles, Cyrus, Agesilaus, Alexander, who, he says, could not have achieved so great success without the support of other men. He calls in witnesses, whom he does not need, to prove a fact that no one questions.

And yet, as, on the one hand, we secure great advantages through the sympathetic cooperation of our fellow-men; so, on the other, there is no curse so terrible but it is brought down by man upon man. There is a book by Dicaearchus on "The Destruction of Human Life." He was a famous  p185 and eloquent Peripatetic, and he gathered together all the other causes of destruction — floods, epidemics, famines, and sudden incursions of wild animals in myriads, by whose assaults, he informs us, whole tribes of men have been wiped out. And then he proceeds to show by way of comparison how many more men have been destroyed by the assaults of men — that is, by wars or revolutions — than by any and all other sorts of calamity.

17 Since, therefore, there can be no doubt on this point, that man is the source of both the greatest help and the greatest harm to man, I set it down as the peculiar function of virtue to win the hearts of men and to attach them to one's own service. And so those benefits that human life derives from inanimate objects and from the employment and use of animals are ascribed to the industrial arts; the cooperation of men, on the other hand, prompt and ready for the advancement of our interests, is secured through wisdom and virtue [in men of superior ability]. 18 And, indeed, virtue in general may be said to consist almost wholly in three properties; the first is [Wisdom,] the ability to perceive what in any given instance is true and real, what its relations are, its consequences, and its causes; the second is [Temperance,] the ability to restrain the passions (which the Greeks call πάθη) and make the impulses (ὁρμαί) obedient to reason; and the third is [Justice,] the skill to treat with consideration and wisdom those with whom we are associated, in order that we may through their cooperation have our natural wants supplied in full and overflowing measure, that we may ward of any impending trouble, avenge ourselves upon those who have attempted to  p187 injure us, and visit them with such retribution as justice and humanity will permit.

6 19 I shall presently discuss the means by which we can gain the ability to win and hold the affections of our fellow-men; but I must say a few words by way of preface.

Who fails to comprehend the enormous, two-fold power of Fortune for weal and for woe? When we enjoy her favouring breeze, we are wafted over to the wished‑for haven; when she blows against us, we are dashed to destruction. Fortune herself, then, does send those other less usual calamities, arising, first, from inanimate Nature — hurricanes, storms, shipwrecks, catastrophes, conflagrations; second, from wild beasts — kicks, bites, and attacks. But these, as I have said, are comparatively rare. 20 But think, on the one side, of the destruction of armies (three lately, and many others at many different times), the loss of generals (of a very able and eminent commander recently), the hatred of the masses, too, and the banishment that as a consequence frequently comes to men of eminent services, their degradation and voluntary exile; think, on the other hand, of the successes, the civil and military honours, and the victories, — though all these contain an element of chance, still they cannot be brought about, whether for good or for ill, without the influence and the cooperation of our fellow-men.

With this understanding of the influence of Fortune, I may proceed to explain how we can win the affectionate cooperation of our fellows and enlist it in our service. And if the discussion of this point is unduly prolonged, let the length be compared  p189 with the importance of the object in view. It will then, perhaps, seem even too short.

21 Whenever, then, people bestow anything upon a fellow-man to raise his estate or his dignity, it may be from any one of several motives: (1) it may be out of good-will, when for some reason they are fond of him; (2) it may be from esteem, if they look up to his worth and think him deserving of the most splendid fortune a man can have; (3) they may have confidence in him and think that they are thus acting for their own interests; or (4) they may fear his power; (5) they may, on the contrary, hope for some favour — as, for example, when princes or demagogues bestow gifts of money; or, finally, (6) they may be moved by the promise of payment or reward. This last is, I admit, the meanest and most sordid motive of all, both for those who are swayed by it and for those who venture to resort to it. 22 For things are in a bad way, when that which should be obtained by merit is attempted by money. But since recourse to this kind of support is sometimes indispensable, I shall explain how it should be employed; but first I shall discuss those qualities which are more closely allied to merit.

Now, it is by various motives that people are led to submit to another's authority and power: they may be influenced (1) by good-will; (2) by gratitude for generous favours conferred upon them; (3) by the eminence of that other's social position or by the hope that their submission will turn to their own account; (4) by fear that they may be compelled perforce to submit; (5) they may be captivated by the hope of gifts of money and by liberal promises; or, finally,  p191 (6) they may be bribed with money, as we have frequently seen in our own country.

7 23 But, of all motives, none is better adapted to secure influence and hold it fast than love; nothing is more foreign to that end than fear. For Ennius says admirably:

"Whom they fear they hate. And whom one hates, one hopes to see him dead."

And we recently discovered, if it was not known before, that no amount of power can withstand the hatred of the many. The death of this tyrant,4 whose yoke the state endured under the constraint of armed force and whom it still obeys more humbly than ever, though he is dead, illustrates the deadly effects of popular hatred; and the same lesson is taught by the similar fate of all other despots, of whom practically no one has ever escaped such a death. For fear is but a poor safeguard of lasting power; while affection, on the other hand, may be trusted to keep it safe for ever.

24 But those who keep subjects in check by force would of course have to employ severity — masters, for example, toward their servants, when these cannot be held in control in any other way. But those who in a free state deliberately put themselves in a position to be feared are the maddest of the mad. For let the laws be never so much overborne by some one individual's power, let the spirit of freedom be never so intimidated, still sooner or later they assert themselves either through unvoiced public sentiment, or through secret ballots disposing of some high office of state. Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never  p193 endangered. Let us, then, embrace this policy, which appeals to every heart and is the strongest support not only of security but also of influence and power — namely, to banish fear and cleave to love. And thus we shall most easily secure success both in private and in public life.

Furthermore, those who wish to be feared must inevitably be afraid of those whom they intimidate. 25 What, for instance, shall we think of the elder Dionysius? With what tormenting fears he used to be racked! For through fear of the barber's razor he used to have his hair singed off with a glowing coal. In what state of mind do we fancy Alexander of Pherae lived? We read in history that he dearly loved his wife Thebe; and yet, whenever he went from the banquet-hall to her in her chamber, he used to order a barbarian — one, too, tattooed like a Thracian, as the records state — to go before him with a drawn sword; and he used to send ahead some of his bodyguard to pry into the lady's caskets and to search and see whether some weapon were not concealed in her wardrobe. Unhappy man! To think a barbarian, a branded slave, more faithful than his own wife! Nor was he mistaken. For he was murdered by her own hand, because she suspected him of infidelity.

26 And indeed no power is strong enough to be lasting if it labours under the weight of fear. Witness Phalaris, whose cruelty is notorious beyond that of all others. He was slain, not treacherously (like that Alexander whom I named but now), not by a few conspirators (like that tyrant of ours), but the whole population of Agrigentum rose against him with one accord.

Again, did not the Macedonians abandon Demetrius  p195 and march over as one man to Pyrrhus? And again, when the Spartans exercised their supremacy tyrannically, did not practically all the allies desert them and view their disaster at Leuctra, as idle spectators?

8 I prefer in this connection to draw my illustrations from foreign history rather than from our own. Let me add, however, that as long as the empire of the Roman People maintained itself by acts of service, not of oppression, wars were waged in the interest of our allies or to safeguard our supremacy; the end of our wars was marked by acts of clemency or by only a necessary degree of severity; the senate was a haven of refuge for kings, tribes, and nations; 27 and the highest ambition of our magistrates and generals was to defend our provinces and allies with justice and honour. (27) And so our government could be called more accurately a protectorate of the world than a dominion.

This policy and practice we had begun gradually to modify even before Sulla's time; but since his victory we have departed from it altogether. For the time had gone by when any oppression of the allies could appear wrong, seeing that atrocities so outrageous were committed against Roman citizens. In Sulla's case, therefore, an unrighteous victory disgraced a righteous cause. For when he had planted his spear5 and was selling under the hammer in the forum the property of men who were patriots and men of wealth and, at least, Roman citizens, he had the effrontery to announce that "he was selling  p197 his spoils." After him came one who, in an unholy cause, made an even more shameful use of victory; for he did not stop at confiscating the property of individual citizens, but actually embraced whole provinces and countries in one common ban of ruin.

28 And so, when foreign nations had been oppressed and ruined, we have seen a model of Marseilles carried in a triumphal procession, to serve as proof to the world that the supremacy of the people had been forfeited; and that triumph we saw celebrated over a city without whose help our generals have never gained a triumph for their wars beyond the Alps. I might mention many other outrages against our allies, if the sun had ever beheld anything more infamous than this particular one. Justly, therefore, are we being punished. For if we had not allowed the crimes of many to go unpunished, so great licence would never have centred in one individual. His estate descended by inheritance to but a few individuals, his ambitions to many scoundrels. 29 And never will the seed and occasion of civil war be wanting, so long as villains remember that bloodstained spear and hope to see another. As Publius Sulla wielded that spear, when his kinsman was dictator, so again thirty-six years later he did not shrink from a still more criminal spear. And still another Sulla, who was a mere clerk under the former dictatorship, was under the later one a city quaestor. From this, one would realize that, if such rewards are offered, civil wars will never cease to be.

And so in Rome only the walls of her houses remain standing — and even they wait now in fear of the most unspeakable crimes — but our republic we have lost for ever. But to return to my subject: it is  p199 while we have preferred to be the object of fear rather than of love and affection, that all these misfortunes have fallen upon us. And if such retribution could overtake the Roman People for their injustice and tyranny, what ought private individuals to expect? And since it is manifest that the power of good-will is so great and that of fear is so weak, it remains for us to discuss by what means we can most readily win the affection, linked with honour and confidence, which we desire.

30 But we do not all feel this need to the same extent; for it must be determined in conformity with each individual's vocation in life whether it is essential for him to have the affection of many or whether the love of a few will suffice. Let this then be settled as the first and absolute essential — that we have the devotion of friends, affectionate and loving, who value our worth. For in just this one point there is but little difference between the greatest and the ordinary man; and friendship is to be cultivated almost equally by both.

31 All men do not, perhaps, stand equally in need of political honour, fame and the good-will of their fellow-citizens; nevertheless, if these honours come to a man, they help in many ways, and especially in the acquisition of friends.

9 But friendship has been discussed in another book of mine, entitled "Laelius." Let us now take up the discussion of Glory, although I have published two books6 on that subject also. Still, let us touch briefly on it here, since it is of very great help in the conduct of more important business.

The highest, truest glory depends upon the following  p201 three things: the affection, the confidence, and the mingled admiration and esteem of the people. Such sentiments, if I may speak plainly and concisely, are awakened in the masses in the same way as in individuals. But there is also another avenue of approach to the masses, by which we can, as it were, steal into the hearts of all at once.

32 But of the three above-named requisites, let us look first at good-will and the rules for securing it. Good-will is won principally through kind services;7 next to that, it is elicited by the will to do a kind service, even though nothing happen to come of it. Then, too, the love of people generally is powerfully attracted by a man's mere name and reputation for generosity, kindness, justice, honour, and all those virtues that belong to gentleness of character and affability of manner. And because that very quality which we term moral goodness and propriety is pleasing to us by and of itself and touches all our hearts both by its inward essence and its outward aspect and shines forth with most lustre through those virtues named above, we are, therefore, compelled by Nature herself to love those in whom we believe those virtues to reside. Now these are only the most powerful motives to love — not all of them; there may be some minor ones besides.

33 Secondly, the command of confidence can be secured on two conditions: (1) if people think us possessed of practical wisdom combined with a sense of justice. For we have confidence in those who we think have more understanding than ourselves, who,  p203 we believe, have better insight into the future, and who, when an emergency arises and a crisis comes, can clear away the difficulties and reach a safe decision according to the exigencies of the occasion; for that kind of wisdom the world accounts genuine and practical. But (2) confidence is reposed in men who are just and true — that is, good men — on the definite assumption that their characters admit of no suspicion of dishonesty or wrong-doing. And so we believe that it is perfectly safe to entrust our lives, our fortunes, and our children to their care.

34 Of these two qualities, then, justice has the greater power to inspire confidence; for even without the aid of wisdom, it has considerable weight; but wisdom without justice is of no avail to inspire confidence; for take from a man his reputation for probity, and the more shrewd and clever he is, the more hated and mistrusted he becomes. Therefore, justice combined with practical wisdom will command all the confidence we can desire; justice without wisdom will be able to do much; wisdom without justice will be of no avail at all.

10 35 But I am afraid someone may wonder why I am now separating the virtues — as if it were possible for anyone to be just who is not at the same time wise; for it is agreed upon among all philosophers, and I myself have often argued, that he who has one virtue has them all. The explanation of my apparent inconsistency is that the precision of speech we employ, when abstract truth is critically investigated in philosophic discussion, is one thing; and that employed, when we are adapting our language entirely to popular thinking, is another. And therefore I am speaking here in the popular sense, when  p205 I call some men brave, others good, and still others wise; for in dealing with popular conceptions we must employ familiar words in their common acceptation; and this was the practice of Panaetius likewise. But let us return to the subject.

36 The third, then, of the three conditions I name as essential to glory is that we be accounted worthy of the esteem and admiration of our fellow-men. While people admire in general everything that is great or better than they expect, they admire in particular the good qualities that they find unexpectedly in individuals. And so they reverence and extol with the highest praises those men in whom they see certain pre-eminent and extraordinary talents; and they look down with contempt upon those who they think have no ability, no spirit, no energy. For they do not despise all those of whom they think ill. For some men they consider unscrupulous, slanderous, fraudulent, and dangerous; they do not despise them, it may be; but they do think ill of them. And therefore, as I said before, those are despised who are "of no use to themselves or their neighbours," as the saying is, who are idle, lazy, and indifferent.

37 On the other hand, those are regarded with admiration who are thought to excel others in ability and to be free from all dishonour and also from those vices which others do not easily resist. For sensual pleasure, a most seductive mistress, turns the hearts of the greater part of humanity away from virtue; and when the fiery trial of affliction draws near, most people are terrified beyond measure.  p207 Life and death, wealth and want affect all men most powerfully. But when men, with a spirit great and exalted, can look down upon such outward circumstances, whether prosperous or adverse, and when some noble and virtuous purpose, presented to their minds, converts them wholly to itself and carries them away in its pursuit, who then could fail to admire in them the splendour and beauty of virtue?

11 38 As, then, this superiority of mind to such externals inspires great admiration, so justice, above all, on the basis of which alone men are called "good men," seems to people generally a quite marvellous virtue — and not without good reason; for no one can be just who fears death or pain or exile or poverty, or who values their opposites above equity. And people admire especially the man who is uninfluenced by money; and if a man has proved himself in this direction, they think him tried as by fire.

Those three requisites, therefore, which were presupposed as the means of obtaining glory, are all secured by justice: (1) good-will, for it seeks to be of help to the greatest number; (2) confidence, for the same reason; and (3) admiration, because it scorns and cares nothing for those things, with a consuming passion for which most people are carried away.

39 Now, in my opinion at least, every walk and vocation in life calls for human co‑operation — first and above all, in order that one may have friends with whom to enjoy social intercourse. And this is not easy, unless he is looked upon as a good man. So, even to a man who shuns society and to one who spends his life in the country a reputation for justice is essential — even more so than to others; for they who do not have it [but are considered unjust] will  p209 have no defence to protect them and so will be the victims of many kinds of wrong. 40 So also to buyers and sellers, to employers and employed, and to those who are engaged in commercial dealings generally, justice is indispensable for the conduct of business. Its importance is so great, that not even those who live by wickedness and crime can get on without some small element of justice. For if a robber takes anything by force or by fraud from another member of the gang, he loses his standing even in a band of robbers; and if the one called the "Pirate Captain" should not divide the plunder impartially, he would be either deserted or murdered by his comrades. Why, they say that robbers even have a code of laws to observe and obey. And so, because of his impartial division of booty, Bardulis, the Illyrian bandit, of whom we read in Theopompus, acquired great power, Viriathus, of Lusitania, much greater. He actually defied even our armies and generals. But Gaius Laelius — the one surnamed "the Wise" — in his praetorship crushed his power, reduced him to terms, and so checked his intrepid daring, that he left to his successors an easy conquest. Since, therefore, the efficacy of justice is so great that it strengthens and augments the power even of robbers, how great do we think its power will be in a constitutional government with its laws and courts?

12 41 Now it seems to me, at least, that not only among the Medes, as Herodotus tells us, but also among our own ancestors, men of high moral character were made kings in order that the people might enjoy justice. For, as the masses in their helplessness were oppressed by the strong, they appealed for protection to some one man who was  p211 conspicuous for his virtue; and, as he shielded the weaker classes from wrong, he managed by establishing equitable conditions to hold the higher and the lower classes in an equality of right. The reason for making constitutional laws was the same as that for making kings. 42 For what people have always sought is equality of rights before the law. For rights that were not open to all alike would be no rights. If the people secured their end at the hands of one just and good man, they were satisfied with that; but when such was not their good fortune, laws were invented, to speak to all men at all times in one and the same voice.

This, then, is obvious: nations used to select for their rulers those men whose reputation for justice was high in the eyes of the people. If in addition they were also thought wise, there was nothing that men did not think they could secure under such leadership. Justice is, therefore, in every way to be cultivated and maintained, both for its own sake (for otherwise it would not be justice) and for the enhancement of personal honour and glory.

But as there is a method not only of acquiring money but also of investing it so as to yield an income to meet our continuously recurring expenses — both for the necessities and for the more refined comforts of life — so there must be a method of gaining glory and turning it to account. And yet, as Socrates used to express it so admirably, 43 "the nearest way to glory — a short cut, as it were — is to strive to be what you wish to be thought to be." For if anyone thinks that he can win lasting glory by pretence, by empty show, by hypocritical talk and looks, he is very much mistaken. True glory strikes  p213 deep root and spreads its branches wide; but all pretences soon fall to the ground like fragile flowers, and nothing counterfeit can be lasting. There are very many witnesses to both facts; but, for brevity's sake: I shall confine myself to one family: Tiberius Gracchus, Publius's son, will be held in honour as long as the memory of Rome shall endure; but his sons were not approved by patriots while they lived, and since they are dead they are numbered among those whose murder was justifiable.

13 If, therefore, anyone wishes to win true glory, let him discharge the duties required by justice. And what they are has been set forth in the course of the preceding book.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Such as Pompey, Cato, Hortensius, and Piso.

2 Aristotle and Theophrastus.

3 That is, they make a false distinction between (1) moral rectitude that is at the same time expedient; (2) moral rectitude that is (apparently) not expedient; and (3) the expedient that is (apparently) not morally right.

4 Julius Caesar.

5 The Romans were accustomed to set up a spear as a sign of an auction-sale — a symbol derived from the sale of booty taken in war.

6 Now lost, though they were still known to Petrarch.

7 Cicero means by "kind services" the services of the lawyer; he was forbidden by law to accept a fee; his services, if he contributed them, were "acts of kindness."

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